Beijing: China’s military on Thursday dismissed as “groundless” the reports of presence of its troops at a forward post in Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK) as India and China prepared for defence minister Manohar Parrikar’s first visit to Beijing to enhance defence ties.
“Chinese position on Kashmir is consistent and (the) reports you mentioned are groundless,” Chinese defence spokesman Col. Yang Yujun told a media briefing here in a brief reply to a question on reports of presence of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops at a forward post opposite Nowgam sector in PaK.
He did not react to a question whether any of its personnel were present in connection with the USD 46-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) connecting Xinjiang province with Pakistan’s Gwadar port which is being laid through the PaK.
This is the first time China’s military reacted to the reports of presence of its troops in PaK.
Earlier, the Chinese Foreign Ministry parried questions on the reports, saying that Kashmir is an issue between India and Pakistan left over from history and should be properly handled by the two sides through dialogue and consultation.
India had earlier protested to China over the CPEC. About reports of Parrikar’s visit, Yang said the two countries are coordinating but declined to give the dates.
Officials on both sides were tight-lipped about the visit which was expected to take place in the third week of April. During the visit, both sides will exchange ideas including bilateral military cooperation, Yang said.
Parrikar’s visit will be the first after his predecessor A K Antony travelled here in 2013 which led to improvement of relations between the two militaries. The exchanges, which were earlier confined to the two armies, were extended to navy and airforces.
After that, several high-level military officials have exchanged visits in a calibrated move to improve relations between the two major militaries. Both the sides have established Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to discuss the issue of incursions and aggressive border patrols by PLA troops along the 3,488-km long disputed border.